Rape victim still suicidal

2009-09-01 19:07

Johannesburg - The sister of a woman who was gang-raped while pregnant wept as she described to the High Court in Johannesburg on Monday the difficulties the family has faced since the 2005 incident.

The woman, who cannot be named to protect her sister's identity, said the incident had traumatised the whole family, including the victim's 10-year-old daughter.

"My niece's schoolwork has deteriorated. She no longer listens and I'm the one who has to help her through it because her mother is forever angry," the woman told the court during sentencing of the seven rapists.

Victim still traumatised

She said the rape had also left her traumatised, because she was the one who had had to take care of her sister, whose health and emotional well-being deteriorated following the rape.

Before the woman took the stand, a psychologist who assessed the victim said the woman was still traumatised by the incident four years after it happened.

"She has given up. She's emotionally fragile, so if given the opportunity she would take her life," said Shaheeda Omar.

Omar counselled the rape victim, who is going by the name Buyisiwe, two years after the incident and also towards the end of May this year.

Seeks refuge in alcohol and cigarettes

At the time of the earlier counselling, the woman was suicidal and had isolated herself from friends, seeking refuge in alcohol and cigarettes.

"Although she has been prescribed tranquillisers, her anxiety levels remain high and she tends to drink herself into a stupor. She has also attempted suicide as she has no hope for the future," Omar read from her 2007 assessment report.

Not much had changed when she assessed her again in May this year.

"A loss of bladder control has immobilised her in more ways and she's scared of meeting others as she constantly has an effective smell of urine.

"She has recently been violently ill and fears her death is near... This incident has affected her relationship with her daughter because she fears she won't be around for much longer," she said.

Fears for daughter

Omar said Buyisiwe also feared for the safety of her daughter and was paranoid about exposing her to the outside world as she was scared the child could be violated in the same way she was.

"This has stifled her daughter's creativity. Her situation hasn't improved since the first assessment... it has deteriorated," Omar said.

Oupa Mohlala, Thabiso Thukwane, Sello Mohlala, Bongani Nhlapo, Moeketsi Mphuti, Kabelo Mwale and Mojalesa Seleka were found guilty in June of raping Buyisiwe.

The trial continues.